Mt. Meron celebration (archives)
Photo: Eli Mandelbaum

Photos: Lag B'Omer on Mt. Meron

(Video) In honor of Jewish holiday, photographer Harel Stanton presents bonfires, ceremonies and people in Israel's 'hottest' festival

VIDEO - Some 200-300,000 people gather every year on Mount Meron in northern Israel to celebrate the biggest Jewish festival in Israel in honor of the Lag B'Omer holiday.


The first visitors immediately after Passover with containers and equipment, while others begin flocking to the area several days before the holiday.

  A fascinating human and ceremonial experience takes place on the day of the holiday, when thousands of Jewish worshippers say prayers, light bonfires and give their three-year-old sons their first haircuts, while celebrating the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer – the day of passing of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.


Photographer Harel Stanton took his camera to one of the religious world's "hottest" events and returned with unusual sights, experiences and angles from the Lag B'Omer celebration on Mount Meron.


1. Throwing clothes and pouring oil into the bonfire throughout the night and the following day in order to fan the flames.


2. The "halake" tradition: Many haredim and Sephardim don't cut their sons' hair until the age of three. This is one of the strongest transition ceremonies, which symbolizes the boy's separation from his asexual identity. The next day, a professional barber completes the haircut by giving the boy the look of a young Jewish man – a bold head and two side-locks. The child is about to bid farewell to his mother and sisters and start studying in a "cheder" (traditional elementary school). The cut hair is weighed and given to charity.


3. Hasid leaves a box and a letter asking for donations on the bumper of his car and goes to sleep…


4. Father showing his small children how to use bow and arrow


5. Several hundred worshippers and journalists receive the police's permission to gather above the tomb (for fear that it would collapse). The rest of the public stands on tribunes facing the grave, watching the ceremony from afar


6. Celebration is a religious-social meeting of joy, food and prayers


7. After starting the fire, the Hasidim burst into singing and dancing into the night and the following day. A Klezmer band plays songs praising the righteous rabbi. Children are carried on their fathers' shoulders


8. Rejoicing in black and white


9. Taking a short nap between celebrations


10. The entrance to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai's tomb


11. Praying for 'Rabbi Shimon the Righteous'


12. Complete faith


13. Every year, dignitaries, ministers and dozens of people gather at a crowded courtyard for blessings and speeches, followed by a colorful Torah Scroll procession through Safed's narrow alleys, accompanied by Klezmer bands, singing and dancing


14. Young girls experience the festivities as well, separated from the boys of course


Harel Stanton is an international photographer and lecturer



פרסום ראשון: 05.22.11, 13:14
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